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Milltail Creek
Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
Dare County, NC

It was another bitterly cold winter morning in North Carolina. (On the Carolina coastal plain, bitter cold is anything near freezing.) I launched my kayak from the end of Buffalo City Road. (There’s no Buffalo City anymore; it never was much more than a small town of loggers, then moonshiners, but the road remains.)

The cold was bracing. (I didn’t own a wet suit then, not having yet learned my lesson from a kayaker who died a month later in the cold water on the far side of the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.) When I paddled into the open water of Milltail Creek, the beauty was even more bracing than the cold.

Since Milltail Creek became a national wildlife refuge, it’s been protected from commercial excess. It’s hard to imagine the creek once busy with steamboats, tugs, barges, and launches. First, it was the lumber companies hauling bald cypress and white cedar out of the surrounding swamp. Then it was moonshiners hauling bootleg whiskey to market and revenue agents trying to catch them.

Now it’s mostly osprey and blue heron that visit the creek. And kayakers in the summer. Not so much in the winter.


Print Quality

Our archival quality images are printed on Moab Exhibition paper using Canon Lucia inks, providing lustrous reproducttions with a board color gamut that resists aging. For more information on the technology used, see our page on print quality.

The images on this site have been highly compressed to speed page loading. Some artifacts from the process may be visible but the image files used for printing are high resolution.

Sound Rivers

Five percent of the profits from all sales on this site are donated to Sound Rivers, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the quality of rivers on the Carolina coastal plain.


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Morning mist on Milltail Creek, Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge, as the early light begins to fall upon pine and tupelo trees.

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